CANADA

Canada NOTES

November 17 1997
CANADA

Canada NOTES

November 17 1997

Canada NOTES

CHARGES AGAINST VANIER

Military police released details of the charges against Col. Reno Vanier, former commander of Canadian troops in Haiti. Among them: that he accepted a $2,000 bribe from a travel agency in the form of airline tickets, and filed a fraudulent travel-expense claim. Vanier, who was recalled from Haiti in April, 1997, drew national attention in June when he disappeared from his Ottawa apartment and was found 12 days later in the Rideau River. He will face a court martial.

NATIVE LANDS?

In Fredericton, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge said that New Brunswick Crown lands are in effect native lands because aboriginals never relinquished title to their property. Ruling in the case of a Micmac Indian charged with illegally harvesting maple trees on Crown land, Justice John Turnbull upheld a lower court decision saying that a 1725 treaty gave natives the right to cut trees on Crown land. But he went a step further, interpreting the treaty to mean that Crown lands are reserved for natives. The provincial government said it would appeal the ruling.

HOPE FOR COMPENSATION

Federal Health Minister Allan Rock suggested that Canadians who contracted Hepatitis C in Canada’s tainted blood scandal could receive compensation without a legal fight. “I have no desire to spend my time in office watching them try to navigate a maze of litigations,” Rock told a two-day blood conference in Toronto. More than 1,200 Canadians were infected with AIDS and 12,000 with Hepatitis C from tainted blood products in the early-to mid-1980s. A compensation package is expected to be among the recommendations when Justice Horace Krever’s tainted blood inquiry tables its report by Nov. 21.

GAY RIGHTS SOUGHT

Delwin Vriend took his case for gay rights to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing that Alberta’s human rights code should be changed to protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation. King's University College of Edmonton, a Christian school, fired Vriend, 31, from his teaching job in 1991 because he is gay. The court reserved its decision.

A new tide of immigrants

Statistics Canada reported that as of 1996, for the first time ever, the number of European immigrants in Canada had fallen to less than 50 per cent of the total. According to the results of the 1996 census, Britain and other European countries now account for 47 per cent of the five million immigrants living in the country—a result that Statistics Canada attributed to the growing influx of arrivals from Asia and the Middle East. That change was evident in the list of source countries of immigrants to Canada. Prior to 1961, the United Kingdom had headed the list. By the first half of the 1990s, however, that position was taken by Hong Kong, with the United

Kingdom falling to 10th place (Asian nations, in fact, accounted for seven of the top 10 source countries of immigrants to Canada). Ontario, meanwhile, has been the largest beneficiary of recent immigration. Statistics Canada said just

Toronto’s east end: eclipsing the Europeans

over half of the one million people who came to the country during the first half of the 1990s ended up in Canada’s largest province. And according to the census figures, immigration continued to be a largely urban phenomenon. “In 1996,” the agency said, “85 per cent of all immigrants—and 93 per cent of those who arrived between 1991 and 1996—lived in a census metropolitan area.” Three cities in particular—Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver—were

a magnet for immigrants, accounting for three-quarters of recent arrivals to Canada. In fact, Statistics Canada said fully 42 per cent of Toronto’s population is now made up of immigrants, compared with about a third for Vancouver.

WHERE THEY COME FROM Total 1,038,995 100% 1 Hong Kong 108,915 10.5 2 People’s Republic of China 87,875 8.5 3 India 71,335 6.9 4 Philippines 71,325 6.9 5 Sri Lanka WÊÊÊÊÊBÊÊ 44,235 4.3 6 Poland 36,965 3.6 7 Taiwan 32,140 3.1 8 Vietnam 32,060 3.1 9 United States 29,020 2.8 10 United Kingdom 25,425 2.4

DIPLOMACY

A premier dodges

Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard went on an 11-day trade mission to China—and tried to steer his way around the thorny issue of Tibetan independence. Asked during a Beijing news conference whether he sympathizes with the aspirations of Tibet, forcibly annexed by China in 1950, Bouchard answered: “I have absolutely no desire to get involved in that. Our own political situation is enough for me.” Bouchard reiterated that business was the reason for his trip—specifically, a number of deals that would bring roughly $200 million in economic benefits to Quebec and create at least 1,000 jobs over the next three years. Among them: a $350million agreement to build a hydroelectric dam in the province of Hunan. The Quebec premier also went out of his way to praise the efforts of Canadian embassy staff in facilitating his visit. “I have absolutely nothing but grateful comments to offer,” he said.

Cheaper Ontario power

Ontario Energy Minister Jim Wilson released a discussion paper detailing the provincial government’s plans to end the 91-year monopoly of Ontario Hydro, North America’s largest electrical utility. The 29-page report, called “Direction for Change: Charting a Course for Competitive Electricity and Jobs in Ontario,” said the province intends to split Ontario Hydro into three Crown companies. One would generate electricity, another would transmit it to consumers, while the third would act as a regulatory agency for the province’s electricity business, which the provincial Conservatives want to open up to competition by the year 2000.

Ontario Hydro chairman William Farlinger blasted the government’s plans to break up the company. But he added that he supports a competitive energy market—something that business groups, municipal utilities and even some environmental groups have been calling for. They argue that it would result in lower prices for consumers and greater efficiency. That was certainly the energy minister’s message last week as he unveiled the government’s plan. ‘Today, we are flipping the switch on a more competitive and responsive electricity system,” Wilson said. ‘We want to introduce customer choice and establish a new system of independent regulation.”