NATIONAL NOTES

March 31 1986

NATIONAL NOTES

March 31 1986

NATIONAL NOTES

Launching a comeback

As attorney general in Saskatchewan’s New Democratic Party government, Roy Romanow gained national prominence in 1981 for the role he played—with then federal Justice Minister Jean Chrétien and Attorney General Roy McMurtry of Ontario—in brokering a deal between Ottawa and the provinces for the patriation of Canada’s Constitution. But in 1982 Romanow lost his seat in the Saskatchewan legislature —by 19 votes —

when Grant Devine’s Conservatives defeated Allan Blakeney’s 11-year-old NDP government. Now, Romanow has decided to attempt a political comeback. Amid widespread speculation that Devine will call an election this spring, Romanow last week won the NDP nomination in his former riding of Saskatoon Riversdale. Romanow admitted that a factor in his decision to disrupt a flourishing legal career and return to provincial politics was the possibility of eventually succeeding the 60-year-old Blakeney as NDP leader.

On the job again

As garbage piled up on sidewalks and yawning potholes proliferated on city streets, many Montrealers had begun to find the last gasp of winter even more trying than usual. The reason: a strike by the city of Montreal’s 4,200 blue-collar workers which left residents without the usual level of city services. Finally, the month-old dispute ended last week by government decree. Earlier this month the province’s essential services commission recommended that the union’s right to strike be revoked, and last week Premier Robert Bourassa’s government took up the suggestion and ordered the strikers back to work. After an emotional meeting to decide whether to obey the decree, the members of Local 301 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who went on strike to back demands for improved working conditions and a 36hour work week, decided to return to work rather than face fines of up to $10,000 a day. But the union instructed its members to “scrupulously observe” the terms of their contract with the city and to refuse to work overtime—meaning that it could be some time before the city returns to normal.

A controversial junket

Six Conservative members of Parliament who were scheduled to return to Ottawa this week after a 14-day trip to South Korea were destined for a stormy reception. Opposition politicians last week wanted to know whether the triparranged by the Canada-Korea Parliamentary Friendship Association and paid for by the authoritarian regime of President Chun Doo-hwan—violated conflict of interest rules for MPs introduced in February. Only one of the MPs, Stanley Schellenberger of Alberta, registered the trip with the Clerk of the House of Commons, as the rules require. But Schellenberger did not indicate—as the rules also demand— who was paying for the visit by the Tory delegation, which included former Conservative party president Peter Elzinga of Alberta, Robert Corbett of New Brunswick, and Robert

Pennock, Ronald Stewart and Terrence Clifford of Ontario. Liberal MP Keith Penner said that while there was no effort to ban such junkets, “it was not wise for MPs to accept the largess of a foreign government.” Deputy Prime Minister Erik Nielsen noted that the trip did not have the “sanction or approval” of the government. For his part, Government House Leader Ray Hnatyshyn argued that MPs are not required to register such trips before they leave the country. But he agreed to meet with the two opposition parties to draft a clarification of the rules.

Resignation accepted

Last September, as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney struggled to contain a scandal over tainted tuna and a pair of ministerial resignations, an added embarrassment arose from remarks by Jerry Lampert, the national director of Mulroney’s Conservative party. Mulroney insisted that he had only learned of an RCMP investigation into Communications Minister Marcel Masse’s election expenses the day Masse resigned from the cabinet. (Masse returned to the cabinet in November after being cleared by the Mounties.) But Lampert insisted that senior members of Mulroney’s office had known about the investigation for several months. Lampert subsequently recanted his statement, apologized for embarrassing Mulroney and offered to resign. At the time, Mulroney refused to accept the resignation. But last week, just one day after the Tories’ national convention wound up in Montreal, Lampert announced his resignation—and this time Mulroney accepted it, though he did not immediately name Lampert’s successor. For his part, Lampert insisted that his decision to leave his post with the federal party and become principal secretary to B.C. Premier William Bennett had nothing to do with the “misunderstanding” between Mulroney and him. Lampert told Maclean's, “I’m leaving on good terms as far as the Prime Minister is concerned and as

friend

far as I am concerned.”

Visit from a

On the ninth day of Liberal Senator Jacques Hébert’s hunger strike last week to protest the cancellation of the Katimavik youth program, Jean-Marc Brunet, his personal physician, announced that the 62-year-old senator’s strength “is failing a little more each day.” But Hébert showed no ill effects during a happy reunion with an old global travelling companion who appointed him to the upper house, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. In the

meantime, members of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government faced the possibility that Hébert, who lost more than 14 lb. in the first two weeks of the fast, might eventually endanger his health. Secretary of State Benoit Bouchard, who is considering a number of less-costly proposals to replace the $20-million-a-year Katimavik program that Hébert conceived in 1977, insisted that the government would not give in to the senator’s demand that the program be reinstated. Bouchard added that if Hébert “believes that he has to go till death, it’s his decision, not mine.”