CANADA

Canada NOTES

October 16 1995
CANADA

Canada NOTES

October 16 1995

Canada NOTES

END OF THE RUN: Rose Marie Turford, 36 (left), and Joyce Stevens, 31, share a light moment after police arrested them in Toronto, ending nearly five months on the lam. According to police, the pair—dubbed “Thelma and Louise” after the 1991 movie about two female fugitives—jumped bail in Texas on May 13 and then went on a crime spree across the United States, during which they posed as everything from nuns to prostitutes. Turford, originally from London, Ont., and Stevens, of Houston, are wanted in Texas on five charges of aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

Blood scandal

Documents submitted to the federal inquiry into Canada’s blood supply system showed that an American pharmaceutical company distributed blood products in Canada after it was warned that they could be carrying the AIDS virus. The documents also showed that Armour Pharmaceutical Co., of Pennsylvania, muzzled the scientist who told the company that its method of destroying the virus was not working well. The tainted blood-clotting medicine, known as Factorate, went on to infect six British Columbia hemophiliacs—five of them children—with AIDS.

Scientist Alfred Prince told Armour Pharmaceutical in 1985 that its heat-treating process did not always kill the AIDS virus in Factorate. But according to documents filed at the inquiry, the company used a confidentiality provision in Prince’s contract to order him not to publish his findings. The company continued to sell Factorate in the Canadian market until 1987. Armour’s products were licensed by the

Bureau of Biologies, which regulated Canada’s blood supply, and distributed by the Red Cross. Documents show that Armour failed to warn hemophiliacs, whose lives depended on the blood-clotting agents, and kept its research findings from the Red Cross.

Abortion politics

Doctors in Alberta handed the explosive issue of access to publicly funded abortions back to the provincial government. Last month, the governing Conservative caucus said that it would only fund abortion procedures deemed medically necessary and asked the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons to help come up with a definition. But the college’s 20 council members voted unanimously against changing guidelines, adopted in 1991, which say the decision to proceed with an abortion during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy is between a woman and her doctor. Some council members were angry that they had been dragged into the debate. “I feel strongly that we not be used as a whipping boy,” said Dr. William Blahey.

BIKER VIOLENCE

The bloody turf war over Montreal’s lucrative drug trade claimed its 27th victim in the past year when Jean-François Nadeau, 25, was shot outside his home. Police claimed the man was a drug dealer and a member of a bike gang affiliated with the Hell’s Angels, which is locked in a violent struggle with a rival biker gang, the Rock Machine. Three days earlier, a powerful bomb exploded outside a Rock Machine clubhouse. The blast could be heard 15 km away.

ONTARIO CUTBACKS

Ontario’s Conservative government released details of $772 million in spending cuts affecting about 400 programs in every area of government, including policing, race relations and health care. Earlier, the Tories had announced other cost-cutting measures, including shutting down halfway houses for inmates and transition homes for battered women and their children. On Friday, protesters upset with the latest wave of cuts jeered and pelted Premier Mike Harris with eggs at an Oktoberfest celebration in Kitchener.

A MIXED VERDICT

A Newfoundland Supreme Court jury acquitted radical environmentalist Paul Watson of two charges of endangering the lives of crews of two vessels, including his own, during a 1993 high-seas protest against overfishing off Newfoundland. The Crown had alleged that Watson’s vessel, Cleveland Amory, deliberately sideswiped a Cuban vessel as it legally cast nets for redfish.

LAND CLAIM SETBACK

The Alberta government withdrew a seven-year-old land offer to the Lubicon Lake Indian band in the wake of an exodus of band members seeking their own deals. The 1988 pact, which provided the band with a reserve encompassing 248 square km in northern Alberta, was hailed at the time as a historic agreement that would end decades of grievances. But it never went ahead because Ottawa would not agree to go along with it.

ASSMAN'S VIP VISITOR

While in Saskatchewan for meetings with the provincial government, the United States ambassador to Canada, James Blanchard, paid a visit to Dick Assman, the Regina gas jockey whom talk show host David Letterman has made famous. “He’s an international celebrity, so we stopped in and said hi,” said the ambassador after pulling into Assman’s PetroCanada station in Regina.