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City approves OC Transpo fare increase

The City of Ottawa transit commission voted in favour of a 2.5 per cent hike in OC Transpo fares on Feb. 18. According to the Ottawa Citizen, savings in other areas will allow OC Transpo to add more buses to the schedule.

Regular adult monthly passes will go up to $103.25, up from $100.75, while adult single trips will now cost $2.84 using Presto, up from $2.77.

If ratified, the decision won’t come into effect until Canada Day.

Kitchissippi Ward Counsellor Jeff Leiper presented the main opposition to the fare increase, moving two motions. Leiper said he moved to freeze cash fares because it is more commonly used by those who are less financially stable, such as seniors and students.

Leiper will bring forward a motion to transfer fare increase revenue to property taxes, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

The city also voted to increase U-Pass fees by $5 per semester in a previous meeting, where they also extended the program beyond 2015–16.

—Deborah Sogelola

Wrongfully convicted Ottawa man sues police

A man who was imprisoned for more than 31 years after being wrongfully accused of killing an Ottawa firefighter,  is now allowed to sue prosecutors and the Ottawa police after the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal blocking his suit.

Romeo Phillion is suing for $14 million for negligence and prosecutorial wrongdoing. Phillion was charged with second-degree murder after admitting to killing firefighter Leopold Roy in 1972. Phillion recanted almost immediately, but was sentenced to life in prison. He is Canada’s longest-serving inmate to have a sentence overturned.

He learned an Ottawa police detective verified an alibi which put Phillion in Trenton at the time of the killing. The alibi was allegedly discredited and had not been given to Phillion’s lawyer. Because of this, Phillion asked his defence lawyer to review the case.

With this new evidence, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a new trial in 2009. The Crown withdrew Phillion’s second-degree murder charge, arguing too much time had passed. Since Phillion is in his 70s and suffering from emphysema, the court ruled his case should at least be heard by a jury.

—Jessica Eritou

Quebec conducts review following strip search of student

The Quebec government is conducting an independent review of its policy that allows school officials to perform strip searches on students suspected of possessing drugs.

Quebec Education Minister Yves Bolduc, who came under fire for initially defending the policy following the strip search of a 15-year-old girl at a Montreal high school, announced the investigation on Feb. 18.

Bolduc previously said strip searches were appropriate as long as they were done “respectfully,” according to media reports. He also said it was a matter of in-school security.

The student had sent a text message to a classmate offering to sell him marijuana, which she said was a joke, according to media report. She also said she wasn’t allowed to call her mother before the strip search was conducted.

The school board responded to criticism by saying it was an “exceptional” case and that employees had acted in accordance with established guidelines.

In Nova Scotia the Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that officials had the right to search a male student in order to maintain safety and security on school property.

—Beatrice Au