CANADA

Canada NOTES

August 17 1998
CANADA

Canada NOTES

August 17 1998

Canada NOTES

CANADA

FANNING THE FLAMES

Some 500 forest fires raged through south-central British Columbia, forcing more than 1,000 people from their homes. The so-called Greenstone Mountain fire near Kamloops, considered the most serious, has consumed more than 2,200 hectares. A 58-yearold man in the area collapsed and died as he loaded his truck to flee. Meanwhile, winds gusting to 90 km/h hampered firefighting efforts.

SEXUAL ALLEGATIONS UP

Sex-related complaints by military personnel have increased sharply this year after a series of news stories and repeated calls by the top brass for victims to come forward. So far, 164 people have filed sexual-assault or other sex-related complaints with military police. In 1997, the military registered only 145 such complaints. Meanwhile last week, the army removed an unnamed unit commander at its Shawinigan, Que., base from his post after an inquiry into sexual misconduct.

NISGA/A PARTY MARRED

Representatives from British Columbia and Ottawa gathered in the Nisga’a village of New Aiyansh to sign a landmark treaty that gives the natives almost 2,000 square kilometres of land, $190 million and a degree of self-government. The Nisga’a must still vote on the deal, as must Parliament and the B.C. legislature. Celebrations after the signing were marred by a plane crash that killed five people in nearby Kincolith.

BIG BANG

The Trans-Canada Highway 20 km west of Sudbury, Ont., was closed after a truck carrying 18,000 kg of explosives crashed in a ditch, caught fire and exploded. The blast gouged out a trench four metres deep by 30m long. Truck parts and other debris were scattered for more than two kilometres, prompting police to comb the region for undetonated explosives.

AU REVOIR

Prominent sovereigntist Lise Bissonnette left her post as publisher of the influential Montreal daily Le Devoir after the Quebec government appointed her to oversee completion of its $75million provincial library in Montreal. Bissonnette, who championed the project in several editorials, will earn $130,000 a year for five years.

FLYING HIGH* Canadian astronauts Marc Garneau,49,and Julie Payette,34, were elated after NASA chose them to take part in space shuttle missions that will contribute to building the $36-billion International Space Station. Payette’s mission in May will be her first, while Garneau.the first Canadian to fly in space, will go into orbit for the third time in August, 1999. Fellow Canadian Chris Hadfield, 38, had previously been named and is scheduled to fly in December, 1999. Assembly of the much-delayed station, designed for a wide variety of research, is now due to start in November and finish in 2004. “I was floored,” Payette said of her selection.

To the barricades in Gaspé

A some dispute natives over on logging the Gaspé rights peninsula between and the Quebec government threatened to escalate into violence. A group of Micmacs who have broken with the band council on the Iistuguj reserve wants greater access to Crown forests for logging. For two weeks, as many as 40 dissidents have disrupted traffic on the region’s main highway. Their protest has paralyzed a sawmill, forcing it to lay off about 100 workers. Early last week, Quebec’s aboriginal affairs minister, Guy Chevrette, threatened to send in police. The Micmacs responded the next day by erecting dirt barriers on the highway. Protest leader Gary Metallic said that if Chevrette resorts to force, “It is going to be the most serious mistake he has ever made as minister.”

After the protesters ignored a deadline to clear the highway, Chevrette softened his stance. “I don’t intend to fall into a trap,” he told reporters in Quebec City. Police would avoid responding to the protesters’ provocation, he added, while negotiations proceeded with both the band council and dissidents.

Meanwhile, Harvey Martin, chief of the reserve’s native police, refused to obey an injunction ordering the road cleared, saying it was in French and might not be understood by English-speaking Micmacs. In the continuing war of words, Metallic warned that the dispute could lead to a crisis like the 78-day armed standoff at Oka, Que., in 1990 between Mohawks, Quebec police and the army. “Certainly, the ingredients are there,” Metallic said.

Death of a policeman

In an outpouring of emotion, 200 Toronto police officers joined a massive hunt for suspects in the stabbing death of undercover Det. Const. Bill Hancox. The murder shocked the city, in part because the popular Hancox, 32, left behind a two-year-old daughter and a wife who is eight-months pregnant. On the night he died, Hancox stopped at a mall convenience store for a pop, then parked his unmarked van in the mail’s lot. What happened next is unclear, but Hancox, gravely wounded, was able to radio for help. Acting on a phone tip, police charged Mary Barbara Taylor, 30, and Elaine Rose Cece, 40, with second-degree murder. Hancox was the 13th officer killed on duty since the metropolitan force was created in 1953.