Canada NOTES

January 15 1996

Canada NOTES

January 15 1996

Canada NOTES


A premier in the making?

After more than a week of deliberation, federal Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin is expected to announce his candidacy for the leadership of Newfoundland’s Liberal party—and the premiership of the province—early this week in St. John’s. Tobin’s candidacy, which comes on the heels of Premier Clyde Wells’s Dec. 28 announcement that he is leaving politics, will likely be endorsed by acclamation on Feb. 24 when the province’s Liberals gather to choose a new leader. “He will be looking to use all of his talents to improve the economic conditions of the province,” said one person close to Tobin. “He will be looking for opportunity.” «

something that Tobin has used to great advantage. Widely acknowledged as one of the fed eral government's best communicators, the fisheries minister heightened his profile by going head-to-head with Spain over the issue of foreign overfish-

ing off Canada's Atlantic coast during last year's so-called turbot war. In the process, the native of Stephenville, Nfld., earned the nick name "Captain Canada." Liberal insiders ac knowledge that Tobin's impending departure for Newfoundland will leave a gaping hole in

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s government. But at the age of 41, Tobin could serve two terms as premier and be back in Ottawa in his early 50s, still young enough to attempt to realize one of his other reported ambitions—the prime ministership.

Mission in Asia

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s Team Canada Asian trade mission suffered another setback when Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow, Northwest Territories Government Leader Donald Morin and Yukon Leader John Ostashek bowed out of the trip. That brought to five the number of provincial and territorial leaders who will not be accompanying the Prime Minister on this week’s high-profile visit to India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, which is expected to produce at least $2 billion in new trade agreements. Quebec’s ongoing boycott of federal initiatives eliminated outgoing Premier Jacques Parizeau from the trip, while Alberta’s Ralph Klein said last month that he would not participate because of the province’s upcoming February budget and his own television address on the state of Alber-

ta, to be delivered later this month.

Romanow, Morin and Ostashek offered similar reasons. In the case of Saskatchewan, Romanow faces public consultations on the province’s 1996 budget. Chrétien, whose Team Canada also includes about 300 Canadian business leaders, has privately expressed concern that the absence of five national politicians would lessen the impact of the trade mission— not to mention the fact that two of the participating premiers, Newfoundland’s Clyde Wells and Mike Harcourt of British Columbia, are about to leave politics. But, publicly, federal officials said that the trip, coming in the wake of the successful 1994 trade delegation to China—which brought $9 billion in new agreements, of which 40 per cent have resulted in final contracts so far—is on track. ‘We completely understand Premier Romanow’s reasons for this,” said one spokesman for the Prime Minister. “All’s well with the mission. Everyone else is on board.”


Police arrested 13 people after what has become an unfortunate holiday tradition in Quebec City: drunken brawling between francophones and visiting anglophones. One person suffered a broken jaw during the New Year’s Eve weekend scuffles. The altercations reportedly began after visiting anglophones objected to the way police dealt with another English-speaking tourist.


Five members of a family died in what police said was a murder-suicide in Surrey, B.C., just south of Vancouver. A 40-yearold man armed with a rifle killed himself after shooting his two daughters, his wife and his mother. Only a four-year-old boy survived. Police identified the man as James Huang, and said the family came to the Vancouver area from Taiwan about six months ago.


Statistics Canada reported that, for the third month in a row, the national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.4 per cent. But December’s rate masked the fact that 54,000 more Canadians were working, compared with November. Statistics Canada said that the unemployment rate itself remained unchanged because even more people were looking for work—with no success.


Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra president Mary Ann Simpson announced the closure of the 113-year-old Ontario orchestra after an unsuccessful struggle with a debt that rose to $1.2 million. But former Hamilton mayor Jack MacDonald and Stuart Smith, former Ontario Liberal leader, said they would launch a campaign to bring the orchestra back to life.


Prince Edward Island acquired a new status under Ottawa’s constitutionalveto formula for Atlantic Canada. The formula gives a veto to Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, the Prairie provinces and the Atlantic region. Within the two regional blocs, a combination of provinces with at least 50 per cent of the area’s population is needed to invoke the veto. Due to its small population (just 136,000), Prince Edward Island was the only province unable to invoke the veto with just one other province. But New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have agreed to jointly support Prince Edward Island should it gain the support of either of those provinces.