Canada NOTES

July 1 1998

Canada NOTES

July 1 1998

Canada NOTES


Saskatchewan prosecutor Randy Kirkham was found not guilty of obstructing justice during the first trial of Robert Latimer, who, in 1994, was found guilty of killing his disabled daughter, Tracy. Kirkham, 44, was accused of tampering with the Latimer jury because he had police question some jurors about their views on mercy killing. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice George Baynton ruled Kirkham used bad judgment but broke no law.


The B.C. Supreme Court issued injunctions barring International Forest Products Ltd. from logging on land claimed by the Kitkatla Indian Band. The ruling could be the first in a wave of similar judgments: the court based its decisions on the landmark Delgamuukw decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which last December ruled that aboriginal bands have a constitutional right to ancestral land if they have not signed treaties.


Alberta Liberal Leader Nancy MacBeth celebrated her by-election victory in Edmonton after winning the seat once held by her predecessor, Grant Mitchell, who resigned in May. In 1992, MacBeth, a former Conservative cabinet minister, almost beat Ralph Klein for the Tory leadership.


Mohawks on the Kahnawake reserve on Montreal’s South Shore threatened to assert their sovereignty in response to Quebec’s attempt to collect taxes on cigarettes sold on the reserve to non-natives. The band council said it may resort to collecting tolls for the use of highways, waterways and railways crossing the reserve.


Former B.C. premier Dave Barrett, the head of a one-man commission into the province’s leaky condominium affair, recommended that Ottawa and the provincial government grant condo owners $650 million in tax and interest relief. Barrett also called for mandatory new-home warranties and tighter residential construction regulations. The problem dates to about 1987, when unscrupulous contractors began building shoddy condos during a housing boom.

Roiling the waters

Tempers flared at both ends of the country as Ottawa announced two aid packages worth a total of $1.1 billion for East and West Coast fishery workers hit by disappearing stocks. Under tight security in St. John’s, about 100 people—many angered by what they heard—attended the news conference by Fisheries Minister David Anderson, who announced the East Coast would get $730

million. The package replaces the $ 1.9-billion Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, or TAGS, which eased the impact of cod moratoriums imposed in 1992 and 1993, but is due to run out of money in August. The new package is to run through to May, 1999. It includes $250 million for licence buybacks and $135 million 1 for job training, education I or moving expenses. Some 5 in attendance were upset Ü because they will not quali| fy for some aspects of the 1 program. “What a joke,” I shouted former fish plant s worker Elsie Reid. “I’ll walk away with just enough money to bury me.”

The next day in Vancouver, Anderson announced a $400-million aid package for B.C. fishery workers coping with dwindling salmon stocks. Some money will be for restoring fish habitat and buying back fishing licences. More inspectors will be hired to ensure that endangered coho are not being caught. Even before the announcement, B.C. Premier Glen Clark called the aid inadequate, warning that it would lead to the end of a way of life for small coastal communities.


Blood numbers

According to a team of outside experts hired by the federal health department, the number of people infected with hepatitis C through tainted blood is far smaller than previously thought. The team found that up to 8,000 Canadians were infected between 1986 and 1990, compared with the previous estimate of as many as 22,000. As well, up to 39,000 people contracted the disease through tainted blood between 1960 and 1985—compared with the government’s previous estimate of 60,000.

In March, Ottawa and the provinces announced a $l.l-billion compensation package, but only for those who were infected between 1986 and 1990. That deal collapsed in acrimony after some provinces, especially Ontario, said all victims should be compensated. The revised, lower numbers may make it easier for Ottawa and the provinces to arrive at a new agreement to extend compensation to all.

An Ipperwash accord

A complicated three-way dispute over nativeclaimed lands along the Lake Huron shore near Sarnia, Ont., took a step towards settlement last week. Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart and leaders of the Kettle and Stoney Point bands signed an agreement to return 900 hectares that the federal government took from the bands to establish CFB Ipperwash during the Second World War. Ottawa will also provide $26 million for housing, infrastructure and compensation. The bands have attempted to reverse the expropriation since 1945, and the dispute has heated up in recent years as frustrated natives moved onto the now-vacant base.

The bands also want control of a 40-hectare adjacent area not under federal jurisdiction—Ipperwash Provincial Park, the site of a sacred burial ground. In September, 1995, Dudley George, one of a small group of natives who had staged an occupation of the park, was shot dead during a confrontation with Ontario Provincial Police. Sgt. Kenneth Deane, the OPP officer who shot George, was convicted last year of criminal negligence causing death, but tensions on the reserve remain high and George’s family continues to press for an inquiry into his death. In the wake of the federal-native agreement, Ontario Attorney General Charles Harnick said he hoped the province and the bands could begin a “process of reconciliation” over the park.