Canada NOTES

April 21 1997

Canada NOTES

April 21 1997

Canada NOTES

Going for the score

Did the Canadian Football League score a financial touchdown—or fumble its future independence? Hard to say. What is clear is that the U.S.-based National Football League agreed to advance $4 million to the cash-strapped CFL. Under the five-year deal announced last week, the CFL also gets access to the NFL’s marketing expertise and, perhaps, some additional publicity through a proposed game in 1998 between that year’s Grey Cup winner and the champion of the minor World League of American Football, which the NFL owns and operates. ‘We want

PRIVACY

Cyber-terrorism

It is nothing short of an electronic nightmare for a family in Emeryville, Ont., near Windsor. Debbie TamaiSmith says that she and her husband Dwayne are being harassed by a cyberspace stalker who has taunted them since December by turning lights on and off, interrupting telephone conversations, changing channels on their TV and listening in on family conversations. So far, police and telephone company officials have failed to track down the culprits, who digitally distort their voices and go by the names Sommy One and Sommy Two. “It’s been a living hell,” Debbie says. Bell Canada has changed the family’s telephone number, changed the phone lines in their home and changed the telephone cable in the family's subdivision. The company even tried to fry Sommy’s equipment with a 600-volt blast down the phone lines. “If I could,” Dwayne said, “I’d move out tomorrow.”

to pass on our expertise, which we hope will help the CFL,” NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. “This isn’t about the NFL taking over the CFL.”

In return for the cash advance, which the CFL has to repay out of new in! come arising from the I partnership, the NFL gets § the opportunity to sign I players from the CFL once § the Grey Cup game is S played. The NFL can also, I if it wants to, stage an exhibition or regular-season game in Vancouver or Toronto. CFL chairman John Tory said that while the up-front cash helps the league, he is more enthused about the revenue from potential new ventures. ‘We have never had the resources to take advantage of our marketing opportunities because we have been struggling to stay afloat,” he noted. Tory, who earlier this year said the CFL was in critical condition, now says the eight-team league is “in much better shape than I have seen in a long time.” He added that the CFL wants to develop new grassroots programs to increase interest. But the money is important. Last season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were the only club to turn a profit.

Ontario limps along

It is finally over. Except for one eight-hour break, the Ontario legislature had been sitting around the clock since April 2, hearing 12,000 Liberal and NDP amendments to the Conservatives’ so-called megacity legislation. The bill proposes joining Toronto with five surrounding municipalities to form one city of about 2.3 million people. The Liberal-NDP filibuster—each amendment to Bill 103 had to be read out loud and voted on—came to an end late on April 11, clearing the way for a final vote when the legislature resumes sitting on April 21. But opposition MPPs say they plan similar stalling tactics for Tory plans to cut the number of provincial school boards from 129 to 66. That legislation, called Bill 104, already faces about 1,500 amendments, said government house leader Dave Johnson. “Clearly, Bill 104 is a problem, given this situation,” Johnson added. As a countermeasure, the government is considering simply passing Bill 104 without adding any of its own amendments, denying other MPPs the same opportunity.

The Tory government’s popularity, meanwhile, continues to erode. A poll last week showed that support for Premier Mike Harris’s government has dropped to 38 per cent of decided voters, well below the 45 per cent the party received in the June, 1995, election. The Liberals lead with 43 per cent, while the NDP trails with 16.

REGAN GOES TO TRIAL

Crown prosecutors moved to speed up the protracted legal proceedings against former Nova Scotia premier Gerald Regan on 17 sex-related charges, including rape, involving 13 women. A preliminary hearing had run for 15 weeks in the past year, with no end in sight. Now Regan, 68, will go directly to trial after the Crown, concerned about stress on the complainants, invoked preferred indictment, a seldom-used procedure. Calling that move an abuse of process, Regan’s lawyer, Edward Greenspan, vowed to challenge the speedup.

A MILITARY MESS

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien defended a deal between Canada and the United States under which Canadian taxpayers will pay for the cleanup of former U.S. military installations in Newfoundland and the North. According to reports last week, Canada had asked for $700 million, but received $140 million that can only be used to purchase U.S. military equipment.

HOPE FORMONTFORT?

Responding to public pressure, the Ontario government urged an arm’s-length commission to keep the province’s only fully francophone hospital open. But the government did not insist that Ottawa’s Montfort Hospital stay in its present building. The Health Services Restructuring Commission had recommended closure.

REFORMING EDUCATION

There was cautious optimism in Ottawa for a possible constitutional deal to let Quebec revamp its school system. The province wants to replace its religious school boards with ones based on language—a move requiring a constitutional amendment. Last week, the Parti Québécois government and the Liberal opposition agreed on ways to protect anglophone rights in a reorganization.

A VOICE IN THE NORTH

Inuit in northern Quebec elected Zebedee Nungak as head of the Makivik Corp., a holding company for the $90 million in compensation that natives received for the 1975 James Bay hydroelectric project. Nungak called on Quebec to discuss the impact of sovereignty on the province’s northern natives.