Canada NOTES

October 2 1995

Canada NOTES

October 2 1995

Canada NOTES

On the defensive over Pearson

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien found himself dogged by an old controversy: did he or did he not solicit a donation of $25,000 in 1990 from one of the key players in the ill-fated redevelopment of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport? Testifying before a Senate inquiry, Jack Matthews, president of Paxport Inc., said he believed that his company’s proposal to privatize the airport was scuttled after the Liberals took office in November, 1993, because the firm had refused to contribute to Chrétien’s Liberal leadership campaign in 1990.

Matthews said that Chrétien suggested a donation of $25,000 from Paxport during a meeting with him and Paul LaBarge, a former law partner of Chrétien, at Chrétien’s Ottawa law office. Matthews had made similar allegations before, and both Chrétien and LaBarge had publicly denied seeking a donation. But a new piece of evidence rekindled the controversy: in a

tape recording of a Jan. 24, 1995, conversation between LaBarge and Matthews, obtained by The Globe and Mail, LaBarge confirms that campaign contributions were discussed at the meeting.

In his own testimony before the Senate inquiry last week, LaBarge said he was deliberately leading Matthews on during their conversation—which Matthews secretly recorded—to “see how far he would go.” In any event, the Bloc Québécois temporarily put aside questions about the Oct 30 referendum on Quebec separatism and used the tape recording to challenge Chrétien’s recollection of the meeting and to demand that he appear before the inquiry. An indignant Prime Minister deflected that demand by reiterating that no donations had been sought. “If you want to bring a Bible here,” he told the House of Commons, “I’ll swear to it jn front of the whole nation.”

A bloody turf war

The explosion could be heard more than 30 km away. In the early morning hours of Sept. 21, a bomb exploded in front of a clubhouse associated with the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang near St-Luc, a southeast suburb of Montreal. Police later said that the device, which was being carried from a van, went off prematurely, killing three of the would-be bombers. Const. François Doré, a Quebec provincial police spokesman, added that the perpetrators appeared to be connected to the Rock Machine, a Montreal biker gang that is locked in a bloody struggle with the Hell’s Angels for control of the city’s lucrative illicit drug trade.

The explosion was the latest violent incident in a turf war that had already claimed 22 other lives in the Montreal area over the past year. And it occurred only hours after about 200 bikers from across the country attended a bizarre funeral ceremony in Trois Rivières for Richard (Crow) Emond, 39, a Hell’s Angels enforcer who was gunned down in broad day-

light in Montreal’s east end on Sept. 15. About 300 residents watched as a five-km-long funeral procession of bikers pulled up for the service. Surveillance helicopters flew overhead as police officers moved among the mourners, photographing and searching them. And as Emond’s coffin, draped in the Hell’s Angels flag, was carried into the church, Claude Berger, a biker and a trumpeter with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, played the Sixties’ Simon and Garfunkel hit, The Sounds of Silence.

Refusing to budge

Following a three-day meeting with provincial health ministers in Victoria, federal Health Minister Diane Marleau refused to budge from the Oct 15 deadline she has set for provinces to stop funding private health-care services. Provinces that fail to comply will face a dollarfor-dollar penalty. The provincial ministers criticized her stand and issued a joint statement saying that a scheduled $7-billion cut in transfer payments over the next two years represented a threat to medicare.

ABORTION REVERSAL

Alberta Health Minister Shirley McClellan announced that the Alberta government no longer willing to pay the bills for women who have abortions that are not considered medically necessary. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein had opposed the move, saying that abortion is a matter between woman, her doctor and God.” But under pressure from Tory MLAS, Klein agreed allow his caucus to decide the issue.

STANDOFF AFTERMATH

Jones William Ignace, also known Wolverine, and his son, Joseph Ignace, faced charges of attempted murder, trespassing and obstruction for their role in the monthlong standoff at Gustafsen Lake in central British Columbia. Ten other people who surrendered to the RCMP on Sept. 17 were charged with trespassing and obstruction. The natives left the camp after John Stevens, a 75-year-old medicine man from Alberta’s Stoney reserve, persuaded them to end their protest. Meanwhile, their lawyer, Bruce Clark, was remanded for 30-day psychiatric examination after being found in contempt of court for shouting accusations and obscenities at a judge.

TIPPING THE SCALES

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed four new senators. Although the Conservatives still hold a slim majority51 seats compared with the Liberals’ 50— there are also three Independent senators with Liberal leanings. The new senators: Newfoundland Liberal MP Bill Rompkey, 59; nutritionist Doris M. Anderson, 73, Prince Edward Island; community activist Lorna Milne, 61, of Brampton, Ont.; and Marie-Paule Poulin, 50, of Ottawa, a former CBC vice-president.

FEELING THE AXE

Veteran Liberal MP Warren Allmand lost his job as chairman of the House of Commons justice committee because he voted last spring against a government budget bill that cut payments to social programs. Allmand, 63, said he was simply being true to Liberal principles.

TRAGIC CRASHES

Two Canadians were among 24 people who died when a U.S. Air Force surveillance plane crashed in a huge fireball shortly after takeoff in Alaska. Earlier, single-engine Otter crashed into Salvesen Lake in northwestern Ontario, killing its pilot and five American passengers. And two helicopters involved in a mining expedition crashed near the Dene community of Lutsel K’e, 180 km east of Yellowknife. Four people were believed dead.