Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard and his predecessor, Jacques Parizeau, got together in a Montreal court to jointly sue investment counsellor Richard Lafferty for libel. The target of their pique: a critique in a 1993 Lafferty newsletter, distributed to 275 subscribers and later picked up in the daily press, which described their appeal to Quebec nationalism as demagogy—“no different from what Hitler did.” That, said the Parti Québécois stalwarts, exceeded the bounds of acceptable discourse in a democracy. Testified Bouchard: “Is this the price to pay to be in politics?”
New moves to curb kids
The Ontario legislatures Conservative majority voted to outlaw “squeegee kids,” curbsiders who wash car windshields for loose change, under a socalled Safe Streets law that also prohibits “aggressive panhandling.” The bill provides for penalties from a maximum $500 for a first offence to $1,000 and/or six months in jail for a repeat conviction. The Alberta legislature, on the same day, approved Conservative MLA LeRoy Johnsons private members bill empowering municipalities to levy $ 100 fines for young people under 19 years old caught smoking in public.
A blitz against blaze makers
Winnipeg police on Dec. 6 arrested two girls, aged 12 and 14, who were charged with setting six fires in the previous three months. In all, during the six weeks after the force set up a special anti-arson team on Oct. 25 to combat an epidemic of fires in the city, police arrested more than two dozen people—mostly young teenagers—in connection with some of the more than 200 fires believed to have been deliberately set during the same period.
Alleged mobsters arrested
A force of more than 300 federal, provincial and city police rounded up 38 Russian and other east European émigrés in predawn raids on Dec. 9 in and around Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Windsor, Ont.—and sought 17 others—on mob-related charges, from bank-card fraud to drug dealing.
Sleepless in the House of Commons
It took a record 43 hours and 471 votes, but the controversial Nisga’a land claims treaty passed second reading despite a concerted attack from the opposition Reform party. The treaty gives the northern B.C. natives $253 million, 2,019 square kilometres and self-government rights that Reform, as well as the B.C. opposition Liberal party, complain go beyond those of other Canadians.
Just desserts, finally
More than 5V2 years after a killing that stunned the nation, and following nearly eight months of trial and six days of jury deliberation, two men were convicted in connection with the death of Georgina (ViVi) Leimonis, 23, who was shot during a botched robbery of the trendy Just Desserts café in Toronto. Lawrence Brown, 30, who conducted his own defence, was convicted of first-degree murder and immediately given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. Gary Francis, 28, was convicted of
manslaughter and robbery and was to be sentenced this week. A third accused, O’Neil Grant, 27, was acquitted of manslaughter and robbery.
All three are black—the victim was white—and originally came from Jamaica, sparking a national debate over immigration policies and leading to defence charges of racism. During the trial, Brown frequently hurled insults and obscenities at Justice Brian Trafford.
The crucial evidence linking the accused to the killing was a grainy videotape, whose reliability was vehemently disputed.
Bullying over bilingualism?
The federal and Ontario governments accused each other of bullying tactics after the province introduced a bill permitting an expanded Ottawa-area megacity to offer municipal services in English only. The move followed an attempt by the Ontario Conservatives to reduce services at Ottawa’s French-language Montfort Hospital and a decision to close francophone Alfred Agricultural College east of the capital. In an odd twist, Quebec’s national assembly unanimously supported the federal position, calling for services to be provided in both languages.
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