CANADA

Canada NOTES

December 28 1998
CANADA

Canada NOTES

December 28 1998

Canada NOTES

CANADA

BYELECTION BACKLASH

Voters in the Vancouver Island riding of Parksville/Qualicum handed B.C. Premier Glen Clark and his New Democrats an overwhelming byelection defeat. Liberal Judith Reid collected 13,324 votes to retain the seat for her party, compared with just 5,812 for the NDP’s Leonard Krog. “It’s a strong message to the government that we’ve got to change or the people will change the government,” Clark said.

HEPATITIS C DEAL

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement to compensate Canadians infected with hepatitis C through the blood system. The federal and provincial governments also acknowledged for the first time that people infected before 1986 and after 1990 are entitled to compensation, although the $1.1billion agreement made no specific provision for them. For the estimated 6,500 infected from 1986 to 1990, it provides an up-front payment of at least $10,000 plus additional compensation up to $220,000 depending on the severity of the illness, and funding for drugs and home-care services.

REFERENDUM REBUFFED

In a poll conducted by Sondagem for Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper, fully 72.8 per cent of respondents said that Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard did not win a mandate to hold another referendum on separation with his Nov. 30 election victory. While Bouchard’s Parti Québécois captured a majority, Jean Charest’s Liberals took slightly more of the popular vote.

AIDING THE HOMELESS

Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano announced an extra $50 million for grants and loans to refurbish housing for the poor and the homeless. The new money doubles the amount for the programs in this fiscal year. It is meant to help poor Canadians repair their homes and allow landlords to bring existing properties up to standard.

BOUNCING BACK

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario decided that Sylvain Letang of Gatineau, Que., could keep his $426,000 dream-home prize even though he bought his winning lottery ticket with a $100 cheque that bounced. Letang, meanwhile, made good on the NSF cheque.

ONE LAST GOODBYE:

Maura Farmer wiped away a tear while she stood at the graveside of her fiancé, Capt. Michael VandenBos of the Snowbirds aerobatics team.VandenBos, 29, died on Dec. 10 after the wing of his Tutor jet touched that of a fellow Snowbird pilot prior to a training exercise near Moose Jaw, Sask.VandenBos ejected but did not survive the crash, which is still under investigation, while his colleague landed safely. More than 600 mourners packed a church in VandenBos’s home town ofWhitby, Ont. “I was never scared to watch Mike fly,” Farmer said in a statement.“! believe it completely fulfilled him.”

Real-life drama at the CBC

Add ranking the name CBC of executives Jim Byrd to who that have of highunexpectedly quit in recent years. Byrd, vice-president in charge of English-language television, stunned colleagues with his announcement that he is leaving—with no declared future plans. Many employees speculate that Byrd was pushed out by James McCoubrey, the chief operating officer of the CBC, because he was reluctant to initiate further belt-tightening measures in the wake of $400 million in cuts over the last five years. Byrd’s replacement is Harold Redekopp, a longtime CBC Radio executive who is considered more amenable to cost-cutting.

As well, the mandate of Perrin Beatty, the CBC’s president and CEO, expires on March 31, and some sources suggest that his position will be restructured, with reduced responsibilities, before a successor is named. (Beatty said last week that he intended to be “fully engaged” in his job until his term ends.) Meanwhile, speculation is growing over who will replace Beatty, or whether Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who appoints the president, will ask Beatty to stay on another year. Beatty has privately indicated that he would welcome a fiveyear reappointment. Other likely candidates include former CBC executives Trina McQueen, now at The Discovery Channel, and Peter Herrndorf, who resigned last week as head of Ontario’s TVO network to pursue “other opportunities,” as well as University of Toronto president Robert Prichard, who announced last week that he will “stand aside” from his post on June 30, 2000.

An APEC conundrum

The beleaguered APEC inquiry, already left in tatters by court challenges and the Dec. 4 resignation of its chairman, Gerald Morin, was rocked again by the news that its two other panelists had also quit. The RCMP Public Complaints Commission, which established the inquiry to investigate claims that police used excessive force during the November, 1997, APEC summit meeting in Vancouver, announced that Vina Starr and John Wright had submitted their resignations in a joint letter dated Dec. 10. The panelists gave as their reason their belief that the inquiry’s numerous setbacks had “a cumulative negative effect on the integrity of our process.” In a written statement, commission chairwoman Shirley Heafey promised to announce soon how the inquiry will proceed.