Canada NOTES

March 11 1996

Canada NOTES

March 11 1996

Canada NOTES

THE LOYAL OPPOSITION

Speaker Gilbert Parent ruled that the Bloc Québécois should remain the official Opposition in the House of Commons. The Bloc and the Reform party both have 52 seats in the Commons, and Reform had argued that it should form the Opposition because the separatist party is not prepared to form a national government. But Parent decided that since both parties have the same number of seats, the Bloc should keep its role.

SASKATCHEWAN PROMISES

The Saskatchewan government promised legislation to prevent the development of two-tier health care in the province. In a throne speech opening the 23rd legislature, the government of NDP Premier Roy Romanow pledged to strictly control the growth of private health care and to protect medicare. It also promised reforms to reduce the number of people on welfare, partly by introducing a form of workfare for young adults.

NORTHERN OUTBREAKS

A potentially lethal respiratory virus continued to afflict communities in the Northwest Territories. In late February, 29 babies from Arviat, 1,100 km north of Winnipeg, were sent to Manitoba for treatment. One of them, a twomonth-old boy, died on Feb. 25. By late last week, five more babies had been sent for treatment from Rankin Inlet, 250 km north of Arviat. Health officials blamed the rapid spread of the disease on overcrowded housing.

RALLY FOR VICTIMS

About 2,000 people rallied in Abbotsford, B.C., to support victims of crime. The community of 100,000, 70 km east of Vancouver, has been traumatized by threats from the killer of a 16year-old girl. Tanya Smith was beaten and drowned last October. A man claiming to be the killer has called police several times, and Smith’s headstone was stolen and vandalized.

BILL FOR CHRETIEN

Bill Clennett, the man Jean Chrétien grabbed around the throat during a demonstration in Hull, Que., on Feb. 15, sent a bill for dental work to the Prime Minister. Clennett, who initially said that he would bill the RCMP, said he paid $560 to repair a bridge and crown after RCMP officers threw him to the ground following his confrontation with Chrétien.

Intense scrutiny for an Alberta mandarin

The Alberta public service commissioner launched a review of the July, 1995, hiring of outspoken health-care critic Jane Fulton as the province’s deputy health minister after a report that she may have inflated some of her academic and professional credentials. The Toronto Globe and Mail said that Fulton, a 48year-old former University of Ottawa associate professor, had stated on her résumé that she had been a visiting professor at some of the

most prestigious American universities, including Harvard, Princeton and Duke, but that none had any record of her serving in the positions she listed in her biographical notes. The newspaper also raised doubts about Fulton’s account of receiving an honorary degree from the University of Illinois and said that she had appeared to overstate the extent of her ties to several Canadian organizations, including the Privy Council.

In the Alberta legislature, Liberal Leader Grant Mitchell said it is no wonder that the province’s health-care system is in chaos “when a simple referee check is beyond this government’s capability.” Premier Ralph Klein called the allegations against Fulton “very troubling.” Fulton declined requests for interviews, including one from Maclean’s, until the public service commissioner’s review is completed. In a letter to the magazine, she described the Globe story as “inaccurate, mistaken, misleading and defamatory,” and said that she was considering legal action.

SECURITY SCARE

Getting their man

An intruder at 24 Sussex Drive was nabbed moments after he scaled the fence surrounding Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s official residence. An RCMP officer apprehended the unarmed man at about 9:30 p.m. last Friday. Security at 24 Sussex had been tightened last November after another intruder armed with a knife broke into the house and confronted Chrétien’s wife, Aline, outside the couple’s bedroom. The Chrétiens were in no danger last week: they were relaxing in Florida before the Prime Minister attended a conference of Caribbean leaders in Grenada. The RCMP, stung by criticism over lax security in November, quickly pointed to their success in the latest incident. Kevin Barry Snow, a 36-year-old unemployed Newfoundlander, was charged with trespassing at night. He faces up to six months in jail.

Stickhandling a scandal in British Columbia

In only his second week in office, British Columbia Premier Glen Clark continued to grapple with the fallout from a scandal surrounding a private company set up last year by the Crown-owned utility B.C. Hydro to invest in a potentially lucrative power deal in Pakistan. On Feb.

21, Clark fired two senior B.C. Hydro officials, John Laxton and John Sheehan, after the liberal opposition disclosed that their rela-

tives, along with a number of NDP insiders, had quietly bought stock in the venture. Clark, who was the minister responsible for B.C. Hydro at the time, said the officials had ignored his instructions that hydro employees should not invest in the new company. Last week, Sheehan issued a statement saying that Clark had never made it clear that family members of employees should not invest. Meanwhile, the premier named a streamlined cabinet—reduced to 16 from 19 members.