CANADA

CANADA NOTES

April 3 1995
CANADA

CANADA NOTES

April 3 1995

CANADA NOTES

WAR CRIMES SUSPECT

Federal justice department officials began court proceedings to strip Erichs Tobiass, 84, of Toronto of his Canadian citizenship in preparation to deport him for his alleged involvement in the mass execution of civilians in Nazi-occupied Latvia from 1941 to 1943. Jewish groups expressed dismay that Ottawa failed to act when it first received allegations about Tobiass’s involvement in war crimes 29 years ago.

PEDOPHILE PUNISHMENT

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Hogarth sentenced 77-year-old Arthur Plint to 11 years in prison after Plint pleaded guilty to 18 counts of assault and indecent assault against boys while serving as a supervisor at a native residential school in Port Alberni, B.C., between 1948 and 1968. Hogarth described the residential school system as “nothing but a form of institutionalized pedophilia.”

MISSING TEENS

Friends and family of six teenage boys scoured the shoreline of Lake Ontario near Toronto in vain for clues to the fate of their loved ones. The six disappeared after a drinking party in the early hours of March 17, when they are believed to have headed onto the lake in a stolen 14-foot motorboat. A search was called off on March 20 after officials decided that there was very little chance of finding anyone alive in the lake.

GUNS AND COPS

The Saskatoon Police Association voted 99 per cent against Ottawa’s proposed gun-control bill. “The law-abiding citizens of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan have enough restrictions placed on them by the existing guns laws,” said spokesman Const. Murray Grismer.

RECALLING A DIPLOMAT

Foreign Affairs Minister André Ouellet ordered Edward Cashman, a Canadian diplomat serving in Australia, to come home after Cashman invoked diplomatic immunity to avoid paying more than $30,000 in family support payments ordered by an Australian court.

ADDICTED TO PHONE SEX

Prince Edward Island MLA Randy Cooke, 34, resigned from the Liberal caucus after admitting that he had billed phone-sex calls to his legislature calling card. “I am addicted to phoning females on adult sex lines,” he told reporters. Cooke will continue to sit as an Independent MLA.

A new tack in the fish war

Federal Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin called it “an act of provocation.” But at week’s end, as more than half a dozen Spanish trawlers continued to fish turbot on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, just outside Canada’s 200-mile territorial limit, Tobin seemed reluctant to repeat the gunboat diplomacy that made him such a hero to his fellow Newfoundlanders. In sharp contrast to Canada’s controversial seizure on March 9 of the Spanish ship Estai in international waters near the Grand Banks, Tobin appeared to be pinning his hopes on ongoing negotiations between Canada and the European Union. Those talks will continue this week at a United Nations conference in New York City, where Canada plans to argue for a binding and enforceable agreement for conserving fish stocks, such as the Atlantic turbot, which straddle national jurisdictions.

But while Tobin was keeping his powder dry for the moment, he did not rule out more dramatic action should the diplomatic route fail—including seizing boats like the Estai, which last week received a boisterous welcome when it returned to its home port in Vigo, Spain, after being released by Canadian authorities after posting a $500,000 bond on March 15.

Tobin also revealed that fisheries and coast guard patrol vessels are being equipped with newly designed devices called warp-cutters. The tool is towed behind a patrol boat and can cut the warps, or steel cables, joining a fishing net to a trawler fishing illegally. “We retain all the options open to us that we’ve had since this conflict began,” he said. “One way or another, there will be an ef_ fective enforcement regime. s One way or another, Canada will get control of this zone.”

Anatomy of shame

Defence Minister David Collenette appointed three civilian commissioners to a public inquiry into Canada’s ill-fated peacekeeping mission to Somalia two years ago. The panel, chaired by Federal Court of Appeal Justice Gilles Letourneau, is to look at how the Canadian Airborne Regiment prepared for its United Nations duties in Somalia in 1992-1993, how it carried out its work and how the military handled the investigation of wrongdoing once the unit came home. The regiment, which was disbanded on March 5, had been involved in several incidents in which Somalis were killed. The most notorious occurred in March, 1993, when 16-year-old Shidane Arone was beaten and tortured to death in a bunker at the regiment’s camp in Somalia. The inquiry will also look into complaints that the investigation into Arone’s death was botched and that soldiers were told to destroy evidence.

The public inquiry follows a series of courts martial involving members of the Airborne. After being convicted of negligent performance of duty in connection with Arone’s death, Capt. Michael Sox, a former platoon commander, was demoted to lieutenant and given a severe reprimand. Sox was found not guilty on a more serious charge of causing bodily harm.

Brave new worlds

Canadian astronomer Marshall McCall became a co-discoverer of two new galaxies neighboring the Milky Way—a finding that could help piece together the history of the Earth’s corner of the universe since the Big Bang. McCall, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Toronto’s York University, and fellow astronomer Ronald Buta of the University of Alabama, first recorded images of the new galaxies—temporarily named Object 1 and Object 2—on the night of Oct. 25, 1992. But the pair withheld their findings until their research was accepted by a scientific journal and confirmed by another source. McCall and Buta were taking measurements of a nearby galaxy, Maffei 1, when they made their unexpected discovery. “It was like shucking an oyster and finding two pearls inside,” said McCall.