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(Angelo Arcadi/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Angelo Arcadi/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

COLLECTED WISDOM

Cops would pay for this information Add to ...

Hi. I’m Inspector C. Wisdom of the Yard, and I’m waiting in this seedy dive to contact one of my paid snitches. Hmm, better check how much money I’ve got. Oops, don’t think I’m going to get much info for $2.38.

The question

In books, TV and films, police detectives often pay people for information, writes Peggy Dillman Taschereau of Stratford, Que. Does this happen in real life? If so, where does the money come from?

The answer

Undercover informant Peter A. Lewis-Watts of Barrie, Ont., has all the details.

“While writing a detective novel in which the protagonist pays an informant,” he says, “I did some ‘investigative work’ (without pay) on this very question.” The answer, at least in Ontario, is yes. Police do pay informants.

“Ontario Regulation 3/99 under the Police Services Act requires that all police departments have written policies and procedures in place covering their dealings with ‘agents and informants.’ ”

According to the Policing Standards Manual, a paid informant who works for police actually becomes an “agent” of the police and signs a letter of agreement with the chief of police. “From what I have gathered, payments under these agreements come from special funds, sometimes called ‘fink funds,’ allocated by each police service. Ultimately, it is safe to assume that they come out of tax revenues (a.k.a. ‘our pockets’). Case closed.”

The question

Richard Theedom of Ottawa notes that the Ontario-Quebec boundary, for a good stretch, follows the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers. But around Hudson and Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, it jumps these natural boundaries and shifts westward into what should apparently be Ontario. Why?

The answer

D. Scott Munro, a retired professor of geography at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, has been thumbing through The Regional Geography of Canada by Robert M. Bone and tells us that a perusal of Page 119 reveals all.

The Constitution Act of 1791 divided the British province of Quebec into the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada – Lower Canada to the east of the Ottawa River, Upper Canada to the west, except for two seigneuries west of the confluence of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers that were assigned to Lower Canada. Lower Canada was French Canada, which had developed under the seigneurial system of land distribution, so it made sense to assign all the seigneuries to Lower Canada.

Today, Prof. Munro says, they are the Quebec counties of Veudreuil, which borders the Ottawa River, and Soulanges, which borders the St. Lawrence.

Further notice

We recently told you that some commercial airliners have wings that turn up at the ends because these “winglets” break up vortices of air that would otherwise spiral back from the wing tips, increasing aerodynamic drag and raising fuel costs.

Max Lee of Langley, B.C., adds that there’s more than economics at stake. Wing-tip vortices can pose hazards to small planes following larger aircraft. The vortices can last for several minutes and can easily turn over a light aircraft. Therefore, there are strict regulations for pilots concerning time and distance when following various sizes of aircraft.

Help wanted

Who built (or invented) the first Canadian cable-TV system? George Dunbar of Toronto wants to know.

Why does every member of the FBI seem to be a “special agent”? asks Jeff McCombe of Markham, Ont. Are there any non-special agents?

Mike Hutton of Ottawa asks: Why do we itch?

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