Family and friends of Dudley George broke into loud cheers as Judge Hugh Fraser of the Ontario Court provincial division ruled that acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane of the Ontario Provincial Police was guilty of criminal negligence in causing the native protester’s death. “I didn’t know what to think, I went numb when I heard,” said George’s brother, Sam. ‘Today, some justice was done.”
George was killed during the course of a confrontation in September, 1995, when about two dozen natives occupied Ipperwash Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Huron, claiming that a sacred burial ground existed there and that the land was rightfully theirs. During a „ melee with riot police, I* Deane shot George—a a fact he never denied. In z the trial, though, Deane § testified that he shot to a protect his colleagues § when he saw George fire a I rifle during the altercation. « But OPP Sgt. George Hebblethwaite, who stood just behind Deane as he fired, testified that George was only carrying a stick or pole, and that he noticed no shots from George’s direction. No rifle was ever found. “The story of his rifle and the muzzle flash were concocted after the fact in an ill-fated attempt to disguise the fact that an unarmed man was shot,” Fraser ruled, adding that Deane was “not honest in offering this version of events.” Deane, whose lawyer plans to appeal, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 27.
Easier El benefits
Federal Fisheries Minister Fred Mifflin announced that, as of June, it will be easier for out-of-work, East Coast fishermen to qualify for employment insurance. Fishermen will now have to work only 420 hours or earn $2,500 to qualify for El. Previously, fishermen had to work 910 hours or earn $5,500. The changes are intended to offset the effects of people being cut off from a financial aid and retraining program called TAGS—which ran out of money. They will last until the end of the year and could affect up to 15,000 fishermen and plant employees who have lost their jobs since Ottawa started closing the Atlantic ground fishery in 1992. Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, welcomed the decision, but said it is “a discouraging reflection on the state of public policy that it took us more than a year to get this issue addressed.”
Ontario backs down
Ontario was forced to back down on its plan to saddle municipalities with more financial responsibilities. Last January, the Conservative government said it would assume the province’s $5.4billion education tab—previously paid for out of municipal property taxes—but in exchange would offload a large portion of the costs for various health and social services onto local governments. Municipalities said that would burden them with as much as $1 billion in additional expenditures, and under intense pressure from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and others, Queen’s Park blinked. It agreed to assume only 50 per cent of education costs, and continue paying the full cost of long-term care for the elderly and disabled. Ontario will also continue paying 80 per cent of welfare, instead of splitting the tab 50-50 as had been proposed. In addition, the province pledged $627 million to smooth the way for municipalities to take over responsibilities for transit, sewer and road costs. A sore spot continues to be the province’s intention to force municipalities to pay for social housing, beginning next year, even though Ontario agreed to soften the blow with a one-time expenditure of $200 million for housing upgrades. Municipal Affairs Minister AÍ Leach said the new deal would have “zero” financial impact on municipalities.
The Federal Court of Appeal overturned a decision that restricted Gilles Létourneau, chairman of the Somalia inquiry, from laying blame against Brig.-Gen. Ernest Beno. Last year, the Federal Court ruled that Létourneau had shown bias against Beno-the former commander of the Special Services Force that included the defunct Canadian Airborne Regiment-and as such could not blame him in his report on the tarnished mission in 1992-1993.
MORE WOMEN DYING
A University of Toronto study found that more Ontario women are being killed by husbands and boyfriends despite tougher laws. Criminologist Rosemary Gartner said 159 women were murdered by their male companions between 1991 and 1994, or about 40 a year-up from 32 a year between 1974 and 1990. More than half the killings were linked to an actual or impending separation.
Carolyn MacDonald, a former lawyer for murderer Paul Bernardo, was cleared of three charges related to her handling of videotapes depicting Bernardo sexually assaulting two teenage girls. The charges were withdrawn because of a lack of evidence. Ken Murray, who represented Bernardo in 1993, also had one charge dropped, but still faces charges of obstructing justice, possession of child pornography and making obscene material.
An internal audit by the defence department says that since 1992 the department has wasted at least $17 million in buy-outs to military personnel who would have left the armed forces anyway. In some cases, those who took the buy-out rejoined the department as civilians and are now eligible for a public-service buy-out.
The former head of Ontario’s Centre of Forensic Science, Norman Erickson, told a public inquiry that he knew key fibre evidence was contaminated before Guy Paul Morin went to trial for the 1984 murder of Christine Jessop. The evidence was used anyway and Morin, of Queensville, Ont., was convicted in 1992. He was exonerated by new DNA evidence in 1995.
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