Canada NOTES

May 1 1995

Canada NOTES

May 1 1995

Canada NOTES

ARTWORKS DECLARED LEGAL Ontario Court Judge David McCombs ruled that paintings and sketches by Toronto artist Eli Langer that depict sexual activity between adults and children have artistic merit and are not child pornography. McCombs ordered that Langer’s works, which were seized by police in December, 1993, be returned to him. Arts groups hailed the ruling as a victory for freedom of expression.

KATIE RICH IN CUSTODY

Katie Rich, chief of the Innu community of Davis Inlet, Nfld., and two other Innu women were arrested and remanded in custody. The three face contempt-ofcourt charges stemming from a 1993 protest against the provincial court in the impoverished Labrador community, part of an Innu campaign to establish their own justice system. The women claim the court has no jurisdiction over them.

GROWING YOUTH CRIME

Statistics Canada reported that violent crime among 12and 13-year-olds in Canada grew faster than among any other age group last year.

AT THE BARRICADES

A police riot squad was pelted with firecrackers, eggs and condoms by a noisy group of protesters who tried to disrupt a mass at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica. The mass kicked off a week-long convention in the city by the Maryland-based antiabortion group, Human Life International.

FOUND AND LOST

One day after The Toronto Star reported that Grant Bristow was living in St. Albert, Alta., under an assumed identity, the former informant for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service disappeared from sight once again. The Star reported that Bristow, who allegedly infiltrated the white supremacist Heritage Front for CSIS, had been living on a $3,000 monthly federal salary and that Ottawa had also been picking up the tab for his housing and automobile.

LAUNCHING AN APPEAL

Prosecutors in Montreal appealed a ruling on April 7 by Quebec Court Judge Pierre Brassard that acquitted plastic surgeon Marc Bissonnette on a charge of sexually assaulting a female patient. Brassard had said that he did not believe the testimony of two prosecution witnesses. He also brought the alleged victim’s sexual history into the verdict, even though Canadian law forbids the use of such information as evidence.

A premier’s ‘sharp turn’

Anxious to mend an embarrassing public split with Bloc Québécois Leader Lucien Bouchard, Premier Jacques Parizeau said that he is prepared to make a “sharp turn” in his stand on Quebec sovereignty. Two weeks ago,

Parizeau criticized Bouchard for suggesting that the drive for independence should be tempered with a call for continued economic and political ties with Canada. But late last week, the premier reversed his position, promising that he and the Bloc leader will campaign “hand in hand” in a referendum later this year.

Parizeau’s remarks followed the release of a report by Quebec’s national sover-

eignty commission, which appeared to endorse Bouchard’s stand by recommending that the referendum question include some reference to a political union between an independent Quebec and the rest of Canada. The commission also called on the Quebec government to make clear why English Canada would be open to an economic union

with a separate Quebec. “It’s a remarkable document,” Parizeau said. “It makes us really understand that association with Canada is inevitable in many respects, desirable in others and possible in still others.”

Nevertheless, the immediate reaction outside Quebec to the sovereignty report suggested that English Canada would have little interest in the proposed political union. “Now, it looks like they’re shifting to a softer question which will have some sort of sovereignty-association implication to it,” Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow said in an interview before Parizeau announced his new position. “I just don’t know why the rest

just don’t know why the rest of Canada would want to sit down to discuss association.” And in his first public response, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said the report amounted to some “fancy skating” to try to give an independent Quebec what it already has in Canada. “Why get out to get back in?” said Chrétien. “It’s a waste of time.”

Harcourt cleared

A report by British Columbia’s conflict-of-interest commissioner, Ted Hughes, cleared Premier Mike Harcourt of wrongdoing in relation to more than $5 million in government contracts to an ad firm headed by Ron Johnson, the premier’s former election strategist. “I have received no information to support the contention that the premier is or was in an actual conflict of interest,” wrote Hughes.

But Harcourt did not escape Hughes’s investigation unscathed. The commissioner said that the contracts directed to Johnson’s firm, NOW CommunicationsInc., may represent patronage plums. And Hughes sharply criticized the government for its dealings with Karl Struble, a Washington-based communications consultant, who worked alongside Johnson on the 1991 provincial election campaign. Struble had been advising the NDP government on a $556-a-day retainer routed through NOW on a subcontract. Hughes concluded the arrangement was meant to disguise the government’s use of a foreign spin doctor—a point that was

quickly taken up by B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell. “This was a secret, sweetheart deal put together by the premier’s office which they tried to hide from the people of British Columbia,” said Campbell.

Harcourt denied that he ever tried to mask his relationship with Struble. The premier also repeated his assertion that the original conflictof-interest complaint—which had been lodged by radio reporter Kim Emerson—was unfounded, unfair and politically motivated.

Fraud charges

Regina police charged three current Saskatchewan Conservative MLAs—Bill Neudorf, John Britton and Harold Martens—and six former Tory MLAs with fraud for allegedly misusing expense money. Opposition Tory leader Bill Boyd suggested that with a provincial election call expected shortly, the investigation into the fraud charges may have been politically motivated. Bob Mitchell, justice minister in Saskatchewan’s New Democratic Party government, said the charges were not laid for political reasons.