Canada

Canada Notes

A tragic ferry collision in British Columbia

September 25 2000
Canada

Canada Notes

A tragic ferry collision in British Columbia

September 25 2000

Canada Notes

A tragic ferry collision in British Columbia

A B.C. Ferry Corp. vessel collided with an 11-m pleasure boat, leaving a man from Washington state dead and his former wife seriously injured. Both had been aboard the smaller craft. It had remained in a busy channel near Victoria, even though the 19,000-tonne super-ferry, Spirit of Vancouver Island, had repeatedly sounded its horn. Five separate agencies are investigating the accident.

A crime reporter becomes a victim

A veteran crime reporter with Le Journal de Montréal was shot five times in the back just one day after the tabloid published his latest exposé. Michel Auger, 56, who has written extensively about Quebec’s biker wars, survived the attack, which took place in his employer’s parking lot. At week’s end, the journalist remained in hospital in stable condition. Police seized a tape from a surveillance camera which showed a man getting out of a white car, shooting Auger and fleeing. They found the car abandoned nearby;

someone had attempted to set it on fire, a trademark of biker-gang shootings. Police declined to comment on a motive, but Auger’s co-workers claimed the attack was likely the work of organized crime. “This is disgusting because it’s an attack on democracy,” said Paule Beaugrand-Champagne, editor-in-chief of Le Journal.

The shooting prompted renewed calls for special anti-gang legislation to help deal with the turf wars in Quebec that have killed more than 150 people, mainly bikers, since 1994. Premier Lucien Bouchard said he would press Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to toughen the laws: “The safety of our citizens is at stake.”

The harrowing survival of a little girl

A 10-year-old girl narrowly escaped a murder-suicide attempt. She was found wandering on a highway near Sudbury, Ont., suffering from exposure and the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning after her father had hooked their car’s exhaust to its interior. Police say rain shorted out and opened one of the vehicle’s electric windows; the girl got away while her 34-year-old father, disoriented from the fumes, stumbled into a swamp and drowned. The girl is back home with her mother in Mississauga, Ont., where she is expected to recover fully.

Walkerton gears up

Ontario Superior Court Justice Warren Winkler gave lawyers in the Walkerton class-action suit until Oct. 30 to file arguments before he sets a hearing date. Last May, six people died and 2,000 people were made sick from E. coli contamination of the towns water supply. Meanwhile, more than 40 applicants representing 80 groups and 200 individuals were granted standing at a public inquiry. The provincial New Democratic Party, which wanted to dispute Conservative allegations that NDP water policies had caused the tragedy, was one of the few groups denied standing.

Abandoned in Halifax

Hundreds of passengers and crew were stranded in Halifax after two luxury cruise ships—The Rembrandt and Sea Breeze—were seized for unpaid bills. The Rembrandt was allowed to leave harbour the next day. Florida-based Premier Cruise Lines, which also stranded passengers in ports in Mexico and the Bahamas, said it will fly everyone back to their ports of origin.

A macabre discovery

Police in Ontario uncovered the headless remains of Jennifer Zumach, 21, in a remote wooded area near Orangeville, a town 58 km northwest of Toronto. On Sept. 6, Zumachs partner, James Randall, 31, of Orangeville, was arrested and charged with her murder after police stopped him on his motorcycle—and discovered that he was carrying Zumachs head wrapped in plastic. Randall had reported Zumach missing in January, 1999. Police are also looking into the death of Karen Randall, his former wife, who died in 1992. She was thought to have committed suicide.

Doctors protest conditions

In an escalating dispute with the provincial government, doctors in small communities across British Columbia resigned their hospital privileges. They said more money is needed to recruit and retain physicians in rural areas. B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh recalled the legislature at the weekend to approve new health spending, but doctors said it was not enough.

Counting on facts

One major issue in the dispute over native fishing rights centred on Burnt Church, N.B., is just how many traps are pulling lobster from Miramichi Bay. Mi’kmaq spokesmen say they have set fewer than 600; federal fisheries officers say there are as many as 2,000 native traps in the bay. So Bob Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario who is mediating the conflict, suggested the two sides count the number of traps together. That way, they could at least begin to agree on the facts. Earlier, Rae had said the two sides did not yet appear ready to mediate the dispute, which at times has turned violent.

More garbage north

Councillors from York Region voted to begin shipping their garbage to an abandoned mine in Northern Ontario in two years. York joins nearby Toronto and Durham Region in a controversial proposal to ship nearly 1.3 million tonnes of refuse annually 580 km north by train to the Adams Mine open-air pit near Kirkland Lake. The plan by a private consortium, Rail Cycle North, has sparked protests by local residents and environmentalists concerned about the effects of groundwater contamination.

Sights set high

In a bid to compete with neighbouring Alberta, Saskatchewan said it plans to cut an average family’s provincial personal income tax by 25 per cent by 2005. That was one of 19 targets for growth the province set for itself last week in areas such as job creation, investment and research development and high-speed Internet access. Still, Saskatchewan may be hard-pressed to keep pace. On the strength of booming energy prices, Alberta recently forecast record revenue of $8.5 billion this year. In contrast, Saskatchewan’s total revenue from all sources is estimated to be $6.4 billion for 2000-2001.